Employers say babies are bad for business, finds Young Women’s Trust

Wednesday 26 September 2018

YWTToday (26 September) is statistically the most popular in the year to give birth but Young Women’s Trust, a charity that supports young women on low or no pay, has found that getting pregnant is still holding women back in a fifth of workplaces. 

The charity commissioned YouGov to survey UK employers, finding that one in five admit that if a woman is pregnant or has children it has an impact on decisions about whether to promote them. The same number say that pregnancy is frowned upon in their organisation within the first year of employment. 

Some employers were even willing to admit that women were taken less seriously in their workplace when they returned from maternity leave, although women bosses were more likely to notice this than men (17 per cent and nine per cent respectively). 

This comes as a second major survey by the charity, conducted by Populus Data Solutions, shows that 43 per cent of young women with children reported facing maternity discrimination at work. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“The level of discrimination that Young Women’s Trust has uncovered against young mothers who are in work or looking for jobs is shocking. 

“It is in everyone’s interest to help young mothers who want to work. They have a huge amount to contribute to their workplaces and many want to be financially independent and support their families. Tackling discrimination would benefit young mums, businesses and the economy as a whole.  

“Employers should value young mums’ contributions to their workplaces and do more to accommodate them, including by offering more flexible and part-time working opportunities.” 


Notes to editors: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 in England and Wales trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a poll of those making employment decisions in 2018. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 816 senior HR professionals / people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th April - 7th May 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size, sector and region. The survey shows that:
    1. 22 per cent disagreed that “whether a woman is pregnant or has young children has no impact on organisational decisions regarding career progression or promotion”;
    2. 21 per cent agreed that “pregnancy within the first year of employment is frowned upon within this organisation” (18 per cent of men and 27 per cent of women); and
    3. 12 per cent of employers, or one in eight, say women are taken less seriously in their workplace when they come back from maternity leave (17 per cent women, nine per cent men).
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to carry out its annual survey of young people. A representative sample of 4,010 18-30 year olds in England and Wales, with panel services provided by Populus Live, were surveyed between 29 June-16 July 2018. The survey shows that 43 per cent of young women with children had faced maternity discrimination at work.
  3. Office of National Statistics figures show that birth rates have tended to be highest in September, with 26 September being the most popular birthday (ONS figures).

For more information, please contact Bex Bailey at bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org or on 07963018281.